Festivals return to the waterfront

Festival of India and Festival of Colours organizer Prashant Jani shows some of the Indian cuisine that will be available at the two festivals.

The first Festival of India held in Thunder Bay was in the Bora Laskin auditorium at Lakehead University 10 years ago.

About 100 people attended the event.

Over the last decade, the festival has grown to a new location at Marina Park and has seen up to 9,000 people attend the event.

Paired with the Festival of Colours, organizer Prashant Jani is spreading the festival over two days at the city’s waterfront.

The Festival of India starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday with a yoga show followed by a chariot parade that represents unity and love.

“Festival of India is a free event,” said Jani. “There is no entry fee. Everything is free including entertainment. Every year we serve a delicious, free East Indian meal to thousands of people, literally thousands of people.”

For the 10th anniversary, the festival will feature 22 artists and musicians, the most ever invited, said Jani. The performers come from California, Florida, Calgary and Toronto.

And for the first time this year, the event will feature snake-charming dancers.

On Sunday, also at 3 p.m., the Festival of Colours will begin. The event features the popular colour throws every half hour.

“When you throw the colours in the sky, you throw the bad feelings, your worries away and make your life joyful and colourful,” said Jani.

The colours are environmentally-friendly and non-toxic.

“They’re not harmful to the environment or the individual,” Jani said.

While Saturday’s festival is free to attend, there is an admission price for the Festival of Colours on Sunday of $6.50. Colour packets are also available for sale on site.

Jani said he’s thankful of how the community has embraced the events over the last 10 years.

“I came to (Thunder Bay) to stay just for two years,” he said. “Now it’s 15 years and I’m still here and the community of Thunder Bay has been really welcoming, very kind and co-operative in all the festivities. I’m really thankful to everybody and I love this place.”

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